in·​fer·​no in-ˈfər-(ˌ)nō How to pronounce inferno (audio)
plural infernos
: a place or a state that resembles or suggests hell
the inferno of war
also : an intense fire : conflagration
a raging inferno

Examples of inferno in a Sentence

By the time help arrived, the fire had grown to a raging inferno. the intense heat of the raging inferno repeatedly drove back the firefighters
Recent Examples on the Web An inferno rising improbably from the tropical ocean waters amid Maui’s raging wildfires. Pranshu Verma, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 Both started with burning grasses and grew into devastating urban infernos. Nadja Popovich, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 In the present, places like California and southern Australia have felt the brunt of these infernos almost every summer. Curtis Abraham, Scientific American, 9 Sep. 2023 Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about the loss of tourism. Gene Johnson, Chicago Tribune, 6 Sep. 2023 Moreover, the department depended on a system of watchmen perched in high places to spot the first glints of an inferno. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 2 Oct. 2023 Climate change and a tinder-dry year created one of Greece’s hottest summers on record and the perfect conditions for an uncontrollable inferno that destroyed hundreds of square miles of forest. Keir Simmons, NBC News, 20 Sep. 2023 Hawaiians are on edge because the conditions that fueled the fast-moving inferno are all around them. Darryl Fears, Allyson Chiu and Elahe Izadi, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Sep. 2023 Two main roads providing escape routes out of town were closed because of flames and downed power lines, funneling evacuees into an inferno of gridlock along a coastal road where many burned inside their cars. Damien Cave, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'inferno.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Italian, hell, from Late Latin infernus

First Known Use

1834, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inferno was in 1834

Dictionary Entries Near inferno

Cite this Entry

“Inferno.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​fer·​no in-ˈfər-nō How to pronounce inferno (audio)
plural infernos
: a place or state that resembles or suggests hell especially in great heat or raging fire

from Italian inferno "underworld, hell," from Latin infernus (same meaning), from earlier infernus (adjective) "lying beneath, in the lower regions"

More from Merriam-Webster on inferno

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